Worms to take care of city’s sludge

South Waikato News - - FARMING -

Waste­water sludge from Hamil­ton’s 145,000 res­i­dents will no longer end up in land­fill.

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil’s fi­nance and mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tee has given gave the green light to a new ver­mi­com­post­ing pro­posal, which will see more than 12,000 tonnes of sludge di­verted away from land­fill each year.

In­stead of be­ing trans­ported to land­fill at Hamp­ton Downs, the new method will see the city’s waste­water sludge sent to a ver­mi­com­post­ing op­er­a­tion at Toko­roa where it will be mixed with pa­per pulp and laid in rows to break down and com­post. Worms in­tro­duced to the rows will help break down the or­ganic con­tent, with the whole process tak­ing around a year to com­plete. The end prod­uct, known as ver­mi­cast, can then be sold to farm­ers and forestry nurs­eries as fer­tiliser or soil con­di­tioner.

The fi­nance and mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tee en­dorsed the con­cept, giv­ing its ap­proval to award a con­tract to ver­mi­com­post­ing ser­vice provider NOKE for the dis­posal and ben­e­fi­cial re­use of the waste­water sludge.

The con­tract will be for a three-year pe­riod start­ing Fe­bru­ary 1, 2013, with a three-year right of re­newal at the coun­cil’s dis­cre­tion.

NOKE is the only largescale ver­mi­com­post­ing ser­vice provider in the cen­tral North Is­land, oper­at­ing two leased sites at Kaw­erau (where waste­water sludge from Ro­torua Dis­trict Coun­cil and Western Bay of Plenty Dis­trict is cur­rently pro­cessed) and Toko­roa.

The NOKE op­er­a­tions are fully con­sented and com­pli­ant, and pro­duce an ‘‘Aa’’ graded com­post for ben­e­fi­cial re­use. The com­mit­tee also ap­proved the amend­ment of the coun­cil’s ex­ist­ing trans­porta­tion con­tract with Tran­spa­cific In­dus­tries Group New Zealand to have the sludge trans­ported to the Toko­roa site.

Coun­cil­lor Daphne Bell, chair­woman of the coun­cil’s Sus­tain­abil­ity Work­ing Group which has been in­volved in dis­cus­sions about the ver­mi­com­post­ing op­tion, praised the ini­tia­tive.

‘‘It is much bet­ter than our cur­rent process. This is def­i­nitely a move in the right di­rec­tion which is in line with the vi­sion of coun­cil’s Waste Man­age­ment and Min­imi­sa­tion Plan and draft Sus­tain­abil­ity Strat­egy. It shows coun­cil is se­ri­ous about mak­ing good use of waste ma­te­rial.’’

The vi­sion of the Waste Man­age­ment and Min­imi­sa­tion Plan is for Hamil­ton to be­come recog­nised as a na­tional leader in the min­imi­sa­tion of waste and en­sure in­no­va­tive and sound waste man­age­ment prac­tices un­der­pin the city’s en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural well­be­ing.

PRO­POSED: Hamil­ton City Coun­cil has agreed to a pro­posal for waste­water sludge from Hamil­ton’s res­i­dents to be trans­ported to a ver­mi­com­post­ing site in Toko­roa.

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